A Texas teenager who scared students by pointing a cellphone as if it were a gun may face a 10-year jail sentence for threatening to exhibit a firearm on school property.
A 13-year-old student at Terry Middle School in Mesquite prompted a campus lockdown on March 23 after pointing his cellphone at peers like a weapon. Police who responded to the incident say the unidentified minor, who admitted to the act, will face a rare charge that applies to school grounds and buses.
“Just kidding around holding your hand like a gun pointed towards somebody if that person is in fear of what you might do in the future then they could be in violation of this and so all of our kids need to know that they need to be careful about what they do,” Mesquite Lt. Brian Parrish told a local CBS affiliate Tuesday.
The charges come against a cultural backdrop shaped by the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student, was arrested after the massacre and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
“Law enforcement cannot take a chance and simply assume you’re waving a cellphone or plastic gun,” Lt. Parrish said.
The student faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Parameters for punishment hinge on whether the case is designated a misdemeanor or a felony.
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